Tag Archives: eternal life

A Theology from Cut Hair

Barber pole in front of a barber shop in Mexico

My hair turned gray quite a few years ago. Genetics has blessed me with a full head of it. I’ve heard it said that God only created so many perfect heads among men, and the rest He covered with hair. This idea is nowhere to be found in the Bible; some hair-impaired guy probably made this up!

I get about half of my hair cuts in Mexico, where we live part of the time to be near our daughter and her family. My cut hair, gray as it is, stands in stark contrast to the majority of black hair on the Mexican barber’s floor.

Over the past months I’ve washed, combed, and sprayed that hair numerous times, the hair that ended up on the barber’s floor. Previously, the cut hair was a growing part of my appearance for months, but I unceremoniously walk out of the barber shop, leaving that hairy part of me behind for good and move on with my day.

Eventually our entire bodies go the way of the hair on our heads. Nothing of our bodies lasts forever. As a pastor I’ve led hundreds of graveside services where tearful goodbyes are said to a loved one as we commit the person’s body to the earth.

I don’t want to get morbid here, just the opposite. I believe God wants us to keep a hopeful perspective on these fleshly bodies we temporarily inhabit while here on earth.

One of the points I’ve made at all the funeral and memorial services I’ve conducted is that God’s plan for our existence isn’t to be limited to the years we spend on earth in these physical bodies. His Good News, the Gospel, is that we can live forever with Him. For the person who wishes to spend forever with God and accepts God’s free offer to do so, the death of the physical body isn’t the end.

Here’s how I look at it. When I finish my haircut I walk out of the barber shop, leave the clippings behind and go on to what’s next for me. When I die I’ll leave behind this body and go on to what’s next for me!

“For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.”  2 Corinthians 5:1

Of Caterpillars & Tadpoles

Actual tadpoles & caterpillar photographed on the table in our screened patio.

We’ve had both tadpoles and caterpillars living in our screened-in patio. No more. Now there are frogs in my small decorative pond by our patio and butterflies in the sky above our house. What an amazing transformation for us and our grandchildren to have watched, the process called metamorphosis, tadpoles turning into frogs and caterpillars into butterflies!

Imagine if you could find a person who was city born and raised, had never had a science class, and was clueless about anything in nature. Imagine showing them a tadpole and explaining how it turns into a frog or showing them a caterpillar and explaining how it turns into a butterfly. They’d look at you incredulously, say you were crazy, that you were making things up, that what you described was pure science fiction.

Of course we all know this is how frogs and butterflies come into the world, through the amazing process of metamorphosis, from tadpoles and caterpillars. We’re still amazed, but we know this is what happens.

A clear message from God that’s peppered throughout the New Testament of the Bible is that a similar process, though far more amazing, is the eternal life-cycle God has planned for His people. Physical death is clearly described as not the intended end of human life. The life-cycle God has designed for people is to eventually have a new body, in His heaven, forever, a body that’s not susceptible to pain, illness, or death.

Hard to understand, grasp, and believe? Yes, but the nearly unbelievable metamorphosis process of the lowly tadpole and caterpillar should bolster our belief that for God’s most cherished creatures He’s ever created, people, He has something in store that takes metamorphosis to a whole new level!

The one clear differentiation between the transformation process for tadpoles, caterpillars, and us is that tadpoles and caterpillars don’t have any say in the matter; metamorphosis is just what happens to them. We people, on the other hand, are in a different category altogether. We’ve been given a choice as to whether we want this transformation that will make us suitable for life with God in His heaven. This is because He wants it to be a love relationship, and love has to be a choice, not compelled. It’s our choice, while we’re in the tadpole/caterpillar stage of our lives.

I, for one, have decided to give myself over to Him, asking Him to help the metamorphosis begin to happen in the here and now on earth. It gives me great hope that when my time on earth is done He’ll complete the metamorphosis then and there in Heaven!

“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” Philippians 3:20-21

Eternal Purpose

Visit the old section of a cemetery and you’ll see very few flowers. No one remembers a person buried in a very old grave. Anyone who remembered that person is also long dead, and even the person that remembered that person. All of the sacrifices made for others, all of the work and toil — what was it for? Some people would say that we in some small way help humanity for generations to come. However, the reality is — from a humanist point of view — that someday humanity will be extinct. It may happen by an asteroid’s wiping out the earth, by a nuclear holocaust, or by the sun’s eventually becoming a giant red star and burning out life on Earth. Even fleeing to another planet is only a temporary solution until some other cosmic disaster happens or the universe grows cold and dark.

If there’s no life beyond this one, life is truly hopeless. Anything we do is only momentary. But Jesus said, “Because I live, you also will live.” (John 14:19) We have the opportunity to be loved by God, love God back, love others, and do His kingdom work forever! But, according to Holy Scripture, eternity is being built on what we do here and now. It’s all important, and it has eternal ramifications! If we don’t want anything to do with God in this lifetime, God lets us have our way for all of eternity. This hellish existence away from God is called exactly that in the Bible: hell. On the other hand, if we decide to center this life around God and His Son Jesus, we get to enjoy the ramifications of that for all of eternity — and that’s a heavenly experience: what the Bible calls heaven. These few years set the course for all of eternity.

Someone wrote, “Only one life, ’twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.” Who we seek to be for Jesus and what we seek to do for Him will have eternal results! His resurrection gives us that hope!

“Because I live, you also will live.” (John 14:19)

Easter Perspective

The late Richard Halverson, one-time chaplain of the US Senate, wrote, “The statistic is irrevocably true. . . the ratio never changes: One death for every person born. We prepare for everything else – education, career, home, vacations, retirement. Why not the one absolutely certain event?”

When we accept the outreached hand of Jesus, with His invitation to follow Him, and we grasp that hand, He never lets go, not even at death. We have to let go of our loved ones at death, but Jesus doesn’t! He said, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:3)

It will be an existence that’s amazing and astonishingly different from what we’re experiencing in this fallen world. Joni Eareckson Tada became a quadriplegic in a diving accident as a teenager. She’s been paralyzed from her neck down since then, and she’s now in her sixties. She attended a church service where everyone was invited to go to their knees in worship — which, being confined to a wheelchair, she couldn’t do. She wrote, “Sitting there, I was reminded that in heaven I will be free to jump up, dance, kick, and do aerobics. . . .” But she wrote that “the first thing I plan to do on resurrected legs is to drop on grateful, glorified knees. I will quietly kneel at the feet of Jesus.” (quoted in King’s Cross, Timothy Keller, p.223)

A hundred million years from now we can be very much alive in the presence of Jesus Christ. We can live in His new heaven and new earth, if we reach out to Him in faith and commitment in our short lifespan here on this old earth. Jesus died, but then He arose again. When we reach out and take His hand in a relationship with Him He never lets go, not even at death! Because He lives, we can live!

“Because I live, you also will live.” (Jesus in John 14:19)